Sam Giovanniello showed that as long as she has a softball in her right hand, she'll have a torch in her left . . . and she's not ready to pass it to anyone.
"I never want to," she said with a laugh after helping Floral Park to a 5-3 win over Clarke in a Nassau Conference A-I softball game Tuesday.
The pitching matchup between Giovanniello, the Georgetown-bound ace with Long Island and state championships on her resume, and Clarke's Sarah Cornell, the up-and-coming eighth-grade flamethrower looking to build one of her own, didn't quite live up to its billing. But Giovanniello got the better of it, throwing a seven-hitter with three unearned runs, nine strikeouts and two walks.
With two outs and the tying runs on first and second in the bottom of the seventh inning, Clarke's Demi Shanahan hit a sharp grounder to third. Kristina Santoro knocked the ball down, recovered it and tagged out the runner to end the game.
"This is a good confidence builder for us moving forward," Giovanniello said.
Sam Perri went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs and Santoro added a pair of RBI singles, including an insurance run in the seventh as Floral Park (7-2, 4-1) handed Clarke (6-1, 3-1) its first loss.
Clarke struck early as Perri doubled to deep right-centerfield to drive in Emma Schlechter in the top of the first. Santoro followed with a single to bring home Perri, whose slide just beat the tag for a 2-0 lead.
Perri added a bloop single in the fifth to drive in Angelica Titor, then scored on a single by Christine Hand. "This was a pretty big win," Perri said. "I just wanted to swing at strikes and not get down in the count."
Cornell went the distance, allowing eight hits with 11 strikeouts and six walks. She added two singles, one of which cut the deficit to 2-1 in the fourth.
Selena Ruiz and Aly Smith each singled and came around to score on overthrows to second base to bring Clarke within 4-3 in the fifth. But Giovanniello fanned two to end the inning.
"We can't take any team lightly or relax now that we've beaten the first-place team," she said. "We have to go into each game thinking it's the first-place team we are playing."